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AIRSS and its executive director, David Ardrey, provide an important voice for rural schools from the Land of Lincoln.

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AIRSS Outlines National Advocacy Protocol

April 26, 2016

By David Ardrey, Executive Director

Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools (AIRSS)

Just a quick note to our members with an update on our advocacy work in Washington, DC., the 3 days spent in meetings on the hill and the outcomes for AIRSS and our rural schools. First, the opportunity to meet with Rural School Statewide Executive Directors from around the United States and discuss the status and issues of our rural schools was invaluable. Many of these colleagues have years and years of experience and knowledge, that I might learn from and draw upon. The opportunity to discuss organizational issues helps me to understand the direction for AIRSS and a timeline we will be face.

Secondly, the annual legislative summit meeting, hosted by the National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition (NREAC) http://www.aasa.org/NREAC.aspx is designed to assist state associations with advocacy at the national level, create a place for state directors to share concerns and experiences and have a voice on national policy as it relates to rural schools.

As I spend more time with this group it is very clear to me our (AIRSS) membership in the NREAC and our relationship with this organization is vital for our success in our advocacy efforts. Three days on the “Hill” meeting with our lobbyist, our legislators, and representatives from the Department of Education and representatives of The Administration, allowed me to hear directly from various agencies and individuals on issues that will affect our rural schools. I had the good fortune to meet with Senator Durbins staff, Congressman Bost and his staff, and the office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Rural Affairs Division.

I would like to introduce you and personally thank the three individuals who are working tirelessly on policy and advocacy on behalf of rural and small schools. Noelle Ellerson – Associate Executive Director, Sasha Pudelski – Assistant Director and Leslie Finnan – Policy Analyst. These three top notch professionals have provided me great insight and support in learning the advocacy process, I look forward to our continued work. http://www.aasa.org/content.aspx?id=840

Lastly, I will share with you a link for two very important documents on the specific work completed in 2015 and the plan going forward in 2o16. These documents represent the Legislative Agenda for rural schools nationwide. Developed in a caucus type meeting with Executive Directors from around the U.S. and the support of our legislative team mentioned above, this is the work behind the scenes that will take place throughout the next year.

This is why your support of the organization is important and matters. You as a district individually could not afford this type of support and representation, please consider your financial support of AIRSS in coming year – It Matters and Makes a Difference!

For more information on AIRSS, please visit their website!

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